Jeff Reed: Fun Games When It’s Arkansas State vs. UALR


Fun Games When It's Arkansas State vs UALR

Jeff Reed Author PageThey are back in the pack a little, but the winner of tonight’s Arkansas State vs UALR game gets a leg up for their postseason chances.

Unless Georgia State goes into a tailspin, and the Panthers have shown no sign of that with impressive road victories at Western Kentucky, South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette, neither the Trojans nor Red Wolves will garner the top spot in the Sun Belt Conference.

Of course, as we have learned, all winning the regular season does in the Sun Belt is giving you an addition to the trophy room. It carries very little weight toward the post-season.

But now, winning the league title does have a little more meaning.

And for the league champion, and whichever team finishes second, they can thank Red Wolves coach John Brady.

Brady presented a proposal to the Sun Belt leaders to award the regular season division champions by seeding them to the semifinals of the conference tourney. So now you win two games and you win the big prize, the league’s trip to the NCAA Tournament.

In the past, the top teams had to win three games in three days, the same as the fourth or fifth place team, to win the Sun Belt Conference tourney.

There are no longer two divisions in the Sun Belt. Defections have dropped the league to 11 teams, so the top two regular season finishers reap the benefits of the Brady plan.

Before we go further, we will add that the new format is just being used for the men’s side of the tourney. The women still have to trudge their way through the old format, where everyone has three games in three days to claim the title.

That brings us back to this afternoon and evening in Jonesboro. Both the Trojans (10-9, 5-2) and Red Wolves (10-7. 3-3) are still in contention for grabbing one of those two spots. UALR, with three road victories, can take a huge step forward with a victory in Jonesboro, where they lost 86-62 last year.

The Trojans hold the second spot in the standings, a half-game ahead of Western Kentucky, which is making its Sun Belt farewell tour this season.  A-State is in a cluster of four teams with three losses. So there are six teams in strong contention for the second of two favored sports.

And with the league playing a true round-robin – that means 20 conference games – we are a long way from home. Still, Saturday’s game is big for the Red Wolves and Trojans for different reasons. ASU does not need to fall two games behind UALR and the Trojans can get a leg up with a win in one of the league’s toughest venues.

But before the men’s contest there is a big women’s game. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the league this year has been Brian Boyer’s Red Wolves, who lead the Sun Belt standings with a 5-1 mark. UALR, perhaps the most dominant team in the loop the past few season already has three league losses and does  not want to fall further back.

It should be a fun evening. It usually is when it’s Arkansas State vs UALR.


Jeff Reed is editor of You can follow him on twitter @ASUJeffReed.

Game Notes:

The Red Wolves


• The Arkansas State University men’s basketball team is back on its home court this Saturday (Jan. 25) evening as the Red Wolves host their instate rival the UALR Trojans in a Sun Belt Conference (SBC) contest at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.  Opening tip is at 7:05 p.m. (CT) in what represents the first of two regular-season meetings between the two teams for the 2013-14 campaign.

A-State, which is 10-7 overall and 3-3 in conference play, is coming off a pair of narrow defeats on the road to Georgia State (73-72) and WKU (82-77 double overtime) this past week.  The Red Wolves currently have three players with double-figure scoring averages in senior forward Kirk Van Slyke (17.4 ppg.), senior guard Melvin Johnson III (13.5 ppg.), and senior guard Brandon Reed (11.2 ppg).  Van Slyke (6.5 rpg.) and senior forward Kendrick Washington (6.4 rpg.) are the leading rebounders for A-State, which is 5-2 at home this season.


• A-State leads 47-29 in the all-time series. A-State is 28-10 at home, 17-17 on the road, and 2-2 at neutral sites.

• First Meeting – A-State 36, UALR 22 – (1927-28)

• Last Meeting – at UALR 78, A-State 71 – (3/2/13)

• Last A-State win – at A-State 86, UALR 62 – (2/14/13)

• Last UALR win – at UALR 78, A-State 71 – (3/2/13)

• Last A-State win at home – at A-State 86, UALR 62 (2/14/13)

• Last UALR win at A-State – UALR 63, at A-State 62 (1/14/12)

• Last Season – A-State won 82-62 (2/14/13) at home; Lost 78-71 (3/2/13) at UALR

• Current Streak – UALR, Won 1

• Notes – UALR has won four of the last five games after dropping the previous three … The Red Wolves are 7-3 in their last 10 home appearances … The Red Wolves are averaging 66.2 ppg. (331 pts.) in the last five outings to UALR’s 64.8 ppg. (324 pts.) average … A-State won the first 17 meetings (1927-28–1/10/80) … Eight of the last 12 games have been decided by seven points or less, including five of the last seven … The Red Wolves are 5-7 in the last 12 matchups – 3-2 at home, 1-4 on the road, and 1-1 at neutral sites … Ed Townsel averaged 10.5 ppg. (21 pts.) and Cameron Golden had a 9.5 ppg. (19 pts.) scoring average in last season’s two-game set while Kendrick Washington grabbed 5.0 rpg. (10 rebs.).


• UALR has won six of its last eight games following a 69-64 home conference win over Texas State Thursday (1/23) in Little Rock, Ark. The Trojans are 4-6 on the road, 5-2 at home, and 1-1 at neutral sites this season. • Senior forward Will Neighbour (18.0 ppg.), sophomore forward James White (11.4 ppg.), and sophomore guard Josh Hagins (11.1 ppg.) are UALR’s top scorers and the three have combined to produce 54.8 percent (748-1,366) of the team’s production. Neighbour leads the Trojans in both rebounds (7.1 rpg.) and steals (26) while White’s 19 blocked shots represents a team best.

• Will Neighbour’s game-high 21 points led UALR to a 69-64 victory versus Texas State (1/23). Junior guard DeVonte Smith scored 17 points while junior forward Gus Leeper contributed 11 points off the bench.

• UALR is 57th among the national statistical leaders in free-throw percentage (73.2%) and 6th in free throws made (328) thru games of Jan. 23.  The Trojans are 179th in scoring offense (71.9 ppg.), 262nd in scoring margin (-2.9), and scoring defense (74.8 ppg.).  Will Neighbour is 72nd in total points (342), 76th in double doubles (five), 77th in field-goal percentage (51.6%), and 84th in points per game (18.0 ppg.).

•A season ago, UALR compiled a 17-15 overall record and posted a second-place 11-9 Sun Belt Conference West Division mark. The Trojans were 3-10 on the road, 13-3at home, and 1-2 in neutral site contests.

• Head coach Steve Shields, who’s the all-time winningest coach in UALR’s history, has guided the Trojans to six conference championships and one NCAA Tournament appearance since being named to his current position in April 2003. The 2003-04 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year served as an assistant coach at UALR from 2000-03 after spending 1996-00 as head coach at McLennan (Texas) Junior College. Shields was tabbed as the Texas Junior College Coach of the Year and the JUCO Region V Coach of the Year both in 1998. He had assistant coaching stints at McLennan Community College (1990-93), Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College (1993-94), and Kilgore (Texas) Junior College (1995-96).


• The Red Wolves are 186-184 (.503) since joining the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) in the 1991-92 season, which includes a season-best 14-4 (.778) mark in the 1997-98 campaign.

• A-State sports a 45-19 (.703) record at home and is 19-22 (.463) on the road since the 2006-07 season.

• A-State head coach John Brady has registered a 48-46 record (.511) in Sun Belt Conference contests since his arrival in the 2008-09 season, which consists of a 33-12 home ledger and a 15-34 away mark.

• A-State posted a first-place 12-8 SBC West Division mark in 2012-13 – 9-1 at home and 3-7 on the road.


• Senior guard Ed Townsel is two points away from tallying his 1,000th career point at A-State and presently has amassed 998 points in 114 career games.  Townsel, who posted a team sixth-most 131 points in 17 games this season to date, would become the 26th player in the program’s history to reach the significant milestone.  He’s also 15 points shy of tying Jabari Myles (1994-98; 1,013 career pts.) for 25th place on A-State’s all-time scoring leaders list.


• Kirk Van Slyke has compiled double-figure points in 16 of A-State’s 17 contests this campaign, which includes the last 10 games to date. The 6-10 frontcourt player is averaging 19.2 ppg. (192 pts.) in his last 10 appearances with eight 15 or more single-game point performances. He scored 22 points at Georgia State last Thursday (1/16) and then put up 14 points at WKU in double overtime last Saturday (1/18).


• Kendrick Washington has reached double-figure scoring in six of his last eight contests, which includes a career game-best 20 points at WKU last Saturday (1/18). He’s averaging 10.9 ppg. (87 pts.) during those eight outings and has made 61.4 percent (35-57) of his shots from the floor. He compiled an 8.1 ppg. (65 pts.) scoring average in his first eight games this season.


• Kirk Van Slyke extended his double-digit points streak to 10 straight games (12/14-1/18) after netting 14 points at WKU (1/18).  In his last 10 contests, Van Slyke has shot 57.3 percent (67-117) from the floor, 47.1 percent (16-34) in three pointers and 76.4 percent (42-55) from the free throw line.


• Sophomore guard Cameron Golden, who has produced a team-leading 55 assists in 17 games this season, is presently 10 shy of matching his 65 assists total of a season ago in 31 contests. Golden has distributed at least five helpers in a game five times this campaign to date, which includes a career game-high seven assists on two occasions – against Toledo (12/17) and at UT Arlington (1/2). Golden is averaging 4.7 assists an outing (28 total) in his last six contests.


• A-State has compiled a 264-98 record (.729) on its home floor since the 1987-88 season and has tallied double-digit home win totals in 15 seasons, which included a 13-2 home ledger for the 2012-13 campaign. The Red Wolves are 5-2 at home this season and are averaging 81.3 ppg. (569 pts.) to the opposition’s 68.7 ppg. (481 pts.) for a +12.6 points per game differential. Kirk Van Slyke (19.3 ppg.), Melvin Johnson III (12.3 ppg.), and Brandon Reed (11.6 ppg.) lead A-State in scoring at home this season, generating 53.1% (302-569) of the Red Wolves’ points production. Van Slyke has scored a squad- most 135 points in seven games while Johnson III and Reed have tallied 86 and 81 points, respectively.


• Kendrick Washington is 20 rebounds shy of equalling his 123-rebounds total in 27 contests last season. Washington, who averaged 4.6 rebounds per game a season ago, has pulled down 103 caroms for a 6.4 average in 16 outings this campaign. He’s also 31 points away from matching his 183 points scored in 27 encounters last season and currently has chalked up a squad fourth-most 152 points this 2013-14 campaign.


• Arkansas State is back on the road next week for a pair of Sun Belt Conference games, starting next Thursday, Jan. 30, night versus the UL Monroe Warhawks in Monroe, La.  A 7 p.m. (CT) start is scheduled for the contest at ULM’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum.  The Red Wolves then travel to Troy, Ala., for a Saturday, Feb. 1, evening matchup against the Troy Trojans.  Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (CT) at the TU’s Trojan Arena.  Both games can be heard live on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Radio Network via flagship KFIN 107.9 FM as Matt Stolz calls the action.


• A-State was chosen to finish third place in the 2013-14 Sun Belt Conference Coaches Preseason Poll, which was released Oct. 30 by the conference office.  The Red Wolves totaled 74 pointsin voting conducted by the conference’s 10 head coaches.


• Senior guards, Brandon Reed and Ed Townsel were named to the 2013-14 All Sun Belt Conference Preseason Team. Reed received second-team accolades while Townsel attainedthird-team recognition.


The Trojans

UALR (10-9, 5-2 SBC) looks to keep pace in the Sun Belt Conference race when it takes on instate rival Arkansas State (10-7, 3-3 SBC) Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro. UALR is currently in sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt, trailing only unbeaten Georgia State.

Arkansas State leads 47-29 in the all-time series that dates back to the 1927-28 season. UALR has won four of the last five meetings, however, including a 78-71 victory in the 2012-13 season finale for both teams at the Jack Stephens Center. The Red Wolves won last season’s meeting in Jonesboro by an 86-62 final.

Live stats and live video will be available through A live video stream of the game will be available by subscription only, with packages starting as low as $8.95.

Fans are also encouraged to follow @UALR_MBB on Twitter for stat and score updates throughout. The game can be heard on 106.7 FM in Little Rock, or online at

GM20 // UALR (10-9, 5-2 SBC) at Arkansas State (10-7, 3-3 SBC)

Saturday, Jan. 25 • 7:05 PM (CST)
Jonesboro, Ark. • Convocation Center (10,038)
Twitter: @UALRathletics // @UALR_MBB
Radio: KHLR – 106.7 FM
Online Radio:
Radio Talent: Ray Tucker (PXP)
Live Stats:
Live Video:

UALR Trojans
Record: 10-9
SBC Record: 5-2
RPI: 170
Head Coach: Steve Shields (11th year)
Record at UALR: 174-152
Career Record: Same

UALR Statistical Leaders
Points: Will Neighbour (18.0)
Rebounds: Will Neighbour (7.1)
Assists: DeVonte Smith (2.9)
Steals: Will Neighbour (1.4)
Blocks: James White (1.1)

Arkansas State Red Wolves
Record: 10-7
SBC Record: 3-3
RPI: 203
Head Coach: John Brady (6th year)
Record at ASU: 90-85
Career Record: 371-301 (23rd year)

Arkansas State Statistical Leaders
Points: Kirk Van Slyke (17.4)
Rebounds: Kirk Van Slyke (6.5)
Assists: Brandon Reed (2.6)
Steals: Golden/Townsel (1.2)
Blocks: Kirk Van Slyke (1.4)

Series (Overall): ASU leads 47-29
Series (at ASU): ASU leads 21-8
Current Streak: UALR won 1
Last Meeting: 3/2/13 – UALR, 78-71
Shields Record vs. ASU: 11-12

Quick Hits
• UALR improved to 10-9 overall and 5-2 in SBC play with a 69-64 win vs.Texas State on Thursday at the JSC.
• Senior Will Neighbour scored a game-high 21 points while junior DeVonte Smithchipped in a career-best 17 points on a perfect shooting night (6-6 FGs, 2-2 3FGs, 3-3 FTs).
• The win keeps UALR in sole possession of second place in the SBC, trailing only Georgia State (6-0).
• The Trojans are shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and 85.3 percent from the FT line over their last three games.
• Neighbour is averaging 23.7 points on 65.7 percent shooting from the floor and 84.6 percent from the foul line over the same span.
• Neighbour has now reached double figures in scoring in 19 straight games to start the season – the longest streak by a UALR player this century.
• Neighbour is 12 points away from becoming the sixth player in program history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds. He recently passed the 500-rebound mark and now sits at 513 for his career.
• Sophomore James White, who did not play vs. Texas State, has scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games and is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 63.2 percent from the floor over the same span.
• Through seven Sun Belt games, junior DeVonte Smith boasts a 5.8 assist-to-turnover ratio to lead the conference. Smith has committed just four turnovers in 211 minutes of league play.
• Now in his 11th season as head coach, Steve Shields ranks first among active Sun Belt coaches with 97 career conference wins and win percentage in conference play (.560).
• Shields is three Sun Belt victories away from becoming the fifth coach in conference history to win 100 league games (Kermit Davis, MT; Ronnie Arrow, USA; Gene Bartow, UAB; Dickey Nutt, ASU).

Team Notes
• UALR has more road victories through 18 games this year (4) than it did for the entire 2012-13 season (3).
• With its 69-64 win over Texas State, UALR is now 7-1 on the season in games decided by five or fewer points. The Trojans’ only loss within a five-point margin was a 72-70 defeat against North Florida to open the year.
• UALR is 8-3 on the season when finishing even or better on the glass.
• UALR is 7-2 on the season when finishing even or better in turnovers.
• The Trojans have already reached 80 points in a game six times this year, surpassing their total from the previous two seasons combined (5).
• UALR is second in the Sun Belt Conference in free throw shooting percentage (73.4 percent).
• UALR’s 21-of-23 performance at the foul line at Georgia State (91.3 percent) marked the first time the Trojans shot 90 percent or better from the foul line since the title game of the 2011 SBC Tournament vs. North Texas (15 of 16).
• The Trojans are 9-3 on the year when finishing even or better at the foul line.
• UALR’s roster currently features eight players shooting 70 percent or better from the foul line in league games.
• UALR put four players in double figures for the fifth time this season in its win at WKU. Under Shields, UALR is 66-20 when finishing with four or more players in double figures.

Individual Notes
• Senior Will Neighbour ranks in the top ten of the Sun Belt Conference in scoring (18.0-5th), rebounding (7.1-7th), steals (1.4-4th), field goal percentage (51.6-3rd) and free throw percentage (75.8-8th).
• Neighbour has reached double figures in scoring in each of UALR’s first 19 games to start the season and already has more than twice as many games of 20+ points this season (8) than he did over his first two seasons at UALR combined (3).
• Neighbour totaled his fifth double-double of the season – matching his total from all of 2012-13 – and 12th of his career with 22 points and 10 rebounds vs. South Alabama (1/9). UALR is 9-3 in Neighbour’s 12 career double-double games.
• Neighbour’s 132 free throw attempts lead the SBC. He is averaging 6.9 free throw attempts per game this season, up from 2.0 over his first two seasons at UALR.
• Neighbour is averaging 8.4 free throw attempts in conference games this season.
• Neighbour scored 32 points (11-14 FGs, 9-11 FTs) in the Trojans’ overtime win at WKU (1/16), becoming the first UALR player to score 30 points in a game since Brandon Freeman scored 38 at FIU on Jan. 30, 2005.
• Sophomore James White is averaging 15.0 points while shooting 63.2 percent from the floor over his last eight games played.
• White scored a career-best 23 points (6-13 FGs, 11-13 FTs) in his last game at Georgia State (1/18/14).
• White’s field goal percentage of 57.1 in league games leads the Sun Belt Conference.
• White now has 20 career double-figure scoring games and UALR is 15-5 in those games.
• White has blocked nine shots in his last four games played.
• White now has 13 career games of 2+ blocks and UALR is 9-4 in those games.
• Neighbour (2.1-8th) & White (1.9-14th) rank in the top 15 of the SBC in offensive boards per game.
• Sophomore Josh Hagins’ 10 double-figure scoring games this season are second-most on the team.
• Hagins’ average of 1.7 steals per game in league games is good enough for sixth in the SBC.
• Junior DeVonte Smith has racked up 53 assists against just 14 turnovers in 14 games as a starter.
• Smith set new career highs for points (17), field goals made (6) and 3-pointers made (2) in UALR’s win over Texas State (1/23).
• Smith boasts a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season, and a 5.8 ratio in SBC games.
• Smith has committed just four turnovers in 211 minutes of Sun Belt play.
• Junior Ben Dillard is shooting 53.5 percent from 3-point range on the season.
• UALR is now 12-5 in Dillard’s career when he goes for 10+ points, and 10-3 when he hits 2+ treys.
• Sophomore Kemy Osse is shooting 41.6 percent from 3-point range over UALR’s last 11 games.

Milestone Watch
• Senior Will Neighbour currently sits in a tie with Gilbert Maxwell (1979-81) for seventh place. on UALR’s all-time blocks list (75). He is five blocks away from tying Michael Javes(2011-13) for sixth place on the career list.
• Neighbour is 12 points away from becoming the 19th member of UALR’s 1,000-point club.
• Neighbour now sits at 513 rebounds for his career, making him the 14th member of UALR’s 500-rebound club. He is 26 rebounds away from tying Tom Butler (539, 1968-71) for 13th place.
• Junior Ben Dillard is a 45.2 percent career 3-point shooter, putting him on pace to passAlan Barksdale (41.1 percent) as the top 3-point shooter in school history.
• Dillard’s career free-throw shooting percentage of 81.6 currently ranks sixth on UALR’s all-time list.

About Arkansas State
• Arkansas State enters Saturday night’s game as losers of its last two games but boasts a 10-7 overall record and is 3-3 in Sun Belt play.
• Most recently, the Red Wolves fell 82-77 in double overtime at WKU on Saturday, Jan. 18.
• Forward Kirk Van Slyke leads ASU in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (6.5). Melvin Johnson III (13.5) and Brandon Reed (11.2) give the Red Wolves three players averaging double figures.
• Head coach John Brady is in his sixth season in Jonesboro.

All-Time Against the Red Wolves
• ASU leads 47-29 in the all-time series and 21-8 in games played in Jonesboro.
• The two teams split last year’s meetings, with ASU winning 86-62 in Jonesboro, and UALR winning 78-71 in Little Rock.
• Sophomore Josh Hagins scored 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting at ASU. Senior Leroy Islertotaled 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 37 minutes in UALR’s win at the Jack Stephens Center.
• Head coach Steve Shields is 11-12 against Arkansas State.

History in the Making
• Senior Will Neighbour has a chance to become the first player in UALR history to finish his career with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 steals, 100 assists and 75 blocked shots.
• Neighbour currently sits at 988 points, 513 rebounds, 92 steals, 93 assists and 75 blocks with 11 games remaining in the regular season.
• Assuming Neighbour reaches the 1,000-point mark, he will be just the sixth player in program history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds.

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